President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo insists the state willl push through with the execution of 64 inmates on death row, most of them convicted of drug offenses.
DRUG TRAFFICKING - "AN EXTRAORDINARY CRIME" ???
According to President Jokowi and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, drug trafficking leads to thousands of fatalities every year. It is therefore an “extraordinary crime” for which the only appropriate penalty is death by firing squad.
Ever since that fateful day on December 9, 2014, when Jokowi stood before an audience of students and condemned 64 felons to a bloody execution, we have been led to believe that drug trafficking is, in itself, a lethal offense, and that drug traffickers can therefore be held personally responsible for overdose deaths and other tragic, drug-related accidents.
“There will be no clemency for convicts who committed narcotics-related crimes,” Jokowi said. “There are between 40 and 50 Indonesians, mostly young people, who lose their lives every day due to drug use.”
Similarly, when Kalla was asked whether the 64 executions would contravene the “right to life,” which is enshrined in Indonesia’s Constitution as well as international law, the vice president argued that it is the drug traffickers who violate human rights when they supply deadly substances to an illicit market; “Everyone must obey the law,” he simply stated, “and drugs cause the deaths of others. It’s fair, the president will not give clemency to those who destroy.”
This line of reasoning falls down on at least two counts: first, it presumes that all convicted drug traffickers are directly culpable of an indiscriminate number of past and future drug deaths, overlooking the fact that a convicted drug trafficker is, by definition, guilty of a failed crime; ie. the drugs that he attempted to supply have already been confiscated, used as evidence in court, and will later be destroyed in a showy, public relations bonfire, or a police laboratory.
Imagine that a man arrives at Soekarno-Hatta airport attempting to smuggle several kilos of heroin; he is arrested, convicted, and his heroin is later destroyed. We know, therefore,that the apprehended trafficker could not have killed any drug users, because ultimately his heroin never made it onto the market. Granted, the defendant may have trafficked drugs successfully in the past; but if this cannot be proven in a court of law, then we have no reason to believe that the said trafficker is also culpable of any drug deaths. All that we know for sure is that the would-be trafficker failed to supply 'x' amount of drugs.
Secondly, if this sort of fallacious logic is to be applied to drug traffickers, then there is no reason why it should not also apply to wholesalers of other potentially lethal products, such as alcohol, tobacco, automobiles, motorcycles, prescription medicines, etc.
Consider a parallel example; if a life-long tobacco smoker dies of heart disease or lung cancer, we do not seek to hold the CEO of his favorite cigarette brand personally responsible, nor do we allege that the proprietor of a local tobacco kiosk has committed culpable homicide. Far from it; in fact, we accept that the smoker made an autonomous and informed choice to consume the tobacco, and that he ultimately succumbed to a fatal addiction, rather than a pernicious merchant.
If such rationality is to be applied to licit substances such as alcohol and tobacco, then why should our approach to illicit substances not proceed along the same logic?
Unfortunately, however, Jokowi demands that we ignore the burden of proof when it comes to drug traffickers, and simply assume that all of those found guilty are in some sense murderers by proxy. It is absolutely crucial to honor the distinction between drug trafficking, premeditated murder and culpable homicide; and yet if we look at Jokowi and Kalla’s recent rhetoric, it would appear that these three charges now constitute a de facto, three-in-one offense; ie. an “extraordinary crime.”
It seems obvious, therefore, that the 64 traffickers will be executed for a crime they did not commit. Officially, the 64 felons have been convicted of intending to supply an illicit substance, yet in practice; ie. in the minds of Jokowi and Kalla – they have been convicted of murder by proxy. If this seems to be an inaccurate or an exaggerated interpretation of the 64 cases, then I invite you to consider the logic of the “extraordinary crime.”
DOUBLE STANDARDS ???
Jokowi believes that drug trafficking is an immoral enterprise chiefly because it leads to needless fatalities. He believes that 40 to 50 Indonesians die each day from drug use, and therefore believes that 14,600 to 18,250 Indonesian drug users die each year. These figures, which originally appeared in a 2013 National Narcotics Agency (BNN) report, are of course estimates; but for the sake of argument we’ll agree to take the stats at face value.
So let’s say it’s true; let’s say that exactly 50 Indonesians die each day from drug use, and let’s also say Jokowi’s rationale for executing the supposed culprits is morally and logically sound; ie. drug traffickers deal in dangerous substances, the dangerous substances kill our children, and we should therefore kill the drug traffickers.
If you truly believe that this line of reasoning offers a useful moral principle for Indonesia’s justice system to uphold, then you should be more than willing to see a tobacco baron or an automobile tycoon vanquished before a firing squad. Consider the proprietors of Indonesia’s two great tobacco companies – Budi Hartono of Djarum and Susilo Wonowidjojo of Gudang Garam – who also happen to be at number one and number two respectively on Indonesia’s rich list.
These two men have been in the tobacco business for several decades, and have been handsomely rewarded with a combined net worth of over $24.5 billion. But if we attempt to quantify how many deaths these men are jointly culpable of – using Jokowi’s logic, that is – we would find that Mr. Hartono and Mr. Wonowidjojo have “killed” literally millions of people.
Just look at the World Lung Foundation’s 2008 study, which concluded that tobacco consumption kills at least 200,000 Indonesians per year, in addition to a further 25,000 who die each year from second-hand smoke. If we grant that the WLF’s figures are as accurate as the BNN’s drug death statistics, then we must concede that passive smoking alone kills more Indonesians per year than all illegal drugs combined, and that active smoking kills 10 times more Indonesians per year than all illegal drugs combined.
Yet somehow, according to the thinking of Jokowi and Kalla, it is Indonesia’s illegal drug problem that warrants a “state of emergency” and a spate of 64 “shock therapy” executions, rather than its much more deadly tobacco epidemic. Meanwhile, of course, Budi Hartono and Susilo Wonowidjojo are laughing all the way to the Forbes 500.
If President Jokowi and Vice President Kalla really do care about saving lives, and if they really do believe that this can be achieved by executing the ... “kingpins” ... who trade in dangerous substances, then why not execute Budi Hartono and Susilo Wonowidjojo? Is it not obvious that these two men – if we are to use Jokowi’s logic – have been directly “responsible” for millions of preventable deaths over the years? And more repulsive still, just like our so-called ... “kingpins” ... on death row, Hartono and Wonowidjojo have made an exquisite personal fortune as a result.
This sort of double standard has to stop !!!
RESHAPING THE DISCOURSE
If you happen to have moral reservations with the idea of executing tobacco barons, then why would you not apply the same principle to convicted drug traffickers? Where is the moral distinction between a non-violent drug trafficker who purveys a dangerous, potentially lethal substance, and a non-violent tobacco baron who does the same?
Granted, the former commits to breaking the law, whereas the latter does not. But breaking the law is never, in itself, an immoral act; indeed, many of our laws have to be broken in order for us to realize just how irrational and unethical they are – drug laws being a case in point.
We must admit that when an apprehended drug trafficker attempts to supply a drug to a certain market, he does not intend to kill any of his patrons. Sure enough, a drug trafficker may have deliberately murdered a rival or two elsewhere in his career, but this would be an entirely separate offense – and we should not believe that such crimes ever took place until the burden of proof is met with sufficient evidence.
Premeditated lethal intent is precisely what distinguishes a murder from an accident or a culpable homicide, and for the crime of drug trafficking, there is simply no choate evidence by which to establish lethal intent.
In the case of Jokowi’s 64 death sentences, however, there is an unmistakable bounty of lethal intent. Let’s be clear; Jokowi actually intends to kill those 64 people. He actually intends to pierce the vital organs of 64 human beings with a hail of bullets from an executioner’s rifle.
That is murder !!! That is callous, cold-blooded, premeditated murder – and it does not belong in the civilized world !!!
Therefore, the conclusion that President Jokowi, if he does not repeal the executions, is set to become Indonesia’s newest mass murderer. He is, therefore, guilty of a grave offense and a significantly more immoral crime than the 64 drug traffickers he intends to kill.
MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS SUPPORT DEATH PENALTY
The country’s two largest Muslim organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, have given their support to President Joko Widodo’s call for the swift execution of death row inmates despite criticism from human rights campaigners.
Jokowi paid a visit to the headquarters of the two organizations in Jakarta on Wednesday in his efforts to rally support for his tough stance on drug convicts.
Citing the Koran and the State Constitution, NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj said drug trafficking was a serious crime punishable by death.
Muhammadiyah deputy chairman Malik Fadjar meanwhile said the country’s second biggest Muslim organization “fully supports” the execution of drug convicts, given the damage that they bring to young generations through drug addiction problems.
The National Police narcotics unit chief Brig. Gen. Anjan Pramuka Putra recently revealed that the number of drug-related cases nationwide had increased dramatically from 17,539 last year to 18,788 this year, saying that many foreign drug rings targeted Indonesia as their market base because the demand for drugs increased every year. The police have also named 25,151 suspects in drug-related cases throughout 2014, an increase from 23,000 suspects last year. According to the police, 126 of those suspects were foreign nationals from several countries, including Taiwan, China and Nigeria.
Jokowi maintained that the call for the execution of drug convicts, including some foreigners, would not trouble Indonesia’s diplomatic ties with other countries. “Those are different issues. You must understand that between 40 to 50 Indonesians die due to drug abuse every day,” Jokowi said.
Last Wednesday, Jokowi held a Cabinet meeting to further discuss the drug abuse cases with relevant ministers, including Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, National Police chief Gen. Sutarman, National Narcotics Agency (BNN) head Anang Iskandar and Attorney General M. Prasetyo.
Earlier this month, Tedjo said that Jokowi has authorized the executions of five drug convicts sometime in December, with 20 other death-row inmates being prepared to face the firing squad next year.
Although the country’s criminal justice system recognizes a death-by-firing-squad execution for convicts who already received their legally binding sentence, the Wednesday Cabinet meeting discussed the legal complication that arose from a Constitutional Court ruling announced earlier this year that allows a convict to file multiple case reviews for their convictions. “We will coordinate first with the Supreme Court so that if there are indeed case reviews, the legal process could be expedited,” Prasetyo told reporters after Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
Meanwhile, Tedjo said that four drug convicts — instead of five as mentioned in his previous statement — were probably going to be executed in January next year, not this month.